Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Disaster always brings out the idiots

It is sad that every time there is a natural disaster, some idiots will use it to try to score political/ideological points for some pet cause. In that vein we have seen things like religious zealots saying that Aids was God’s revenge against gays, anti-Americans saying that last December’s tsunami was the result of a secret undersea US nuclear test, and now environmental extremists (another form of religious zealots, but I digress) saying that global warming is causing an increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes, in particular Katrina. The common thread here is the suspension of disbelief on the part of the idiot in favor of the dogmatic assertion of what the given idiot takes as articles of faith.

The current round of idiots includes Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Boston Globe columnist Ross Gelbspan and German environmental minister Jurgen Tritten, part of a cacophony of wacky advocacy that will continue for quite a while. They have disgustingly chosen to exploit the death and carnage to advance their pet cause, the reduction of greenhouse gases, in particular CO2. The most high-profile proposal, the Kyoto Protocol, has already been rejected by the Senate by a 99-0 vote and was not supported by either Presidents Bush or Clinton, with good reason – it requires massive reductions in energy use which would cripple our future economic growth and devastate future employment levels in order to reduce surface warming by a few tenths of one degree from the level that it is guesstimated to be a century in the future.

The truth is that Katrina has zero to do with global warming. It results from natural forces which have been unleashed repeatedly for millennia and which humans have no ability to control – we neither cause it nor can we fix it. Hurricane expert William Gray of Colorado State has been much quoted the last couple of days, but his points and the historical data bear repeating.

- The number of hurricanes striking the US has not been increasing. Since 1850 (when records begin) the decades with the highest numbers of hurricanes have been 1941-50, 1881-90, 1891-1900 and 1911-20. The year with the greatest number of hurricanes was 1886. While the 2001-10 decade is on pace to finish above the historical average, it follows a run of five straight decades that were below the historical average, even as the world was heating up slightly.

- The severity of hurricanes striking the US has not been increasing. The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3, 4, 5) came in the 1931-1960 period, with only 1891-1900 matching the low total for those decades. Again, this decade projects to be above average but it follows a run of three below average decades preceded by an average decade. Of the five most destructive storms in the last century, only one (1992’s Andrew) occurred after 1950.

- Things are no different worldwide (the complaint is, after all, of global warming), as the number of annual cyclones steadily fluctuates between 80 and 100. The current active period in the Atlantic is matched by declines elsewhere, even as the declines in the Atlantic from 1970-94 were matched by increases elsewhere. Technically the phenomenon is “a quasi-cyclic multi-decade regime that alternates between active and quiet phases” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

- The United Nations Environment Programme of the World Meteorological Organization weighs in with this: "Reliable data…since the 1940s indicate that the peak strength of the strongest hurricanes has not changed, and the mean maximum intensity of all hurricanes has decreased." [emphasis mine]

Bottom line, we have a group of religious fanatics either ignoring and/or lying about scientific evidence in order to score cheap political points, over the corpses and devastation lining the Gulf Coast. Shameful, despicable, but since we have seen similar behavior recently at Walter Reed Hospital, sadly not so unusual these days.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Great moments in jurisprudence

From the land that brought us Benny Hill:

It was when the 15-year-old miscreant was hauled into court that the problem was first noticed.

Angered by his unruly, boozed-up behaviour, police had hoped magistrates would punish the youth for breaching his Asbo [i.e., anti-social behaviour order]. He hadn't.

Closer examination revealed that he had mistakenly been ordered not to be in public "without" alcohol and that he was also duty bound to act in a threatening manner likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress to others.

After the boy escaped punishment as a result of the misprint, the officials behind the mistake were asked to deliver a new Asbo with more appropriate wording, the Daily Mirror reported.

[Hat tip: Jim "Net Prophet" Murphy]

Leftists for a draft

Bob Herbert reconstructs one of the left’s favorite straw men to wrap up his NY Times column today:

If the war in Iraq is worth fighting - if it's a noble venture, as the hawks insist it is - then it's worth fighting with the children of the privileged classes. They should be added to the combat mix. If it's not worth their blood, then we should bring the other troops home.

If Mr. Bush's war in Iraq is worth dying for, then the children of the privileged should be doing some of the dying.

Ignoring the silliness that “classes” exist anywhere other than the fertile imaginations of class warriors (perhaps he should vacation in New Delhi this summer), what is it that Mr. Herbert is calling for here? We have an all-volunteer army. He’s calling for the “children of the privileged” to be sent into combat (I’m guessing that, for the purposes of this exercise, having an editorial page by-line in the world’s most powerful newspaper does not qualify as being “privileged”). Can this be anything other than his calling for a full military draft with no exemptions? If not, then the passage really doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Yeah, I know, the rest of the column makes no sense either, but gratuitous and fallacious Bush-bashing by the far left doesn’t even raise an eyebrow; however, the far left calling for an unconditional military draft gets my attention.

Legitimate grievances

James Taranto has his own unique take on the rocket scientist who vandalized Camp Casey late Tuesday night:

A local insurgent attacked a settlement near Crawford, Texas, yesterday, Reuters reports:

Some 800 white wooden crosses, bearing the names of soldiers killed in Iraq like her son, have lined the road near the area where [Cindy] Sheehan has pitched a tent. Witnesses said they saw a truck dragging a pipe and chains drive over some of the crosses on Monday night.

Larry Northern, 46, of nearby Waco, Texas, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the incident, Crawford Police Chief Donnie Tidmore said.

Now, we have no truck with mischievous criminals, but at the same time it's important to understand what motivates people to do things like this. After all, one man's vandal is another's freedom-fighter. The Sheehanoids should be asking: Why do they hate us?

Think about it: If outside settlers were occupying your land, demonizing your leaders and slandering your country, wouldn't you have feelings of rage and hopelessness? Again, we're not condoning what Larry Northern allegedly did. Our point is that only by understanding what drove him to this desperate act can we put an end to the cycle of recrimination.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Yesterday's Sheehan wackiness

This is the story that just gets sillier every day. Yesterday featured some idiot driving through the anti-war display of crosses bearing the names of dead soldiers. Remarkably, this resulted in the loony left finding religion, as it were, on the issue of desecration of crosses.

On the other hand, I’m sure the ACLU will be right down to defend the driver for his actions in the name of “freedom from religion.” After all, those were religious symbols on a public road, an unacceptable violation of the principle of separation of church and state.

As for Cindy herself, in a rambling appearance on Hardball last night she revealed that she would feel the same way about the Afghanistan portion of the war as she does the Iraq portion, and implies that she doesn’t believe that Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11 (given her past rhetoric, we can guess who she thinks is – hint: it starts with a ‘J’). Here’s an excerpt:

MATTHEWS: Can I ask you a tough question? A very tough question.


MATTHEWS: All right. If your son had been killed in Afghanistan, would you have a different feeling?

SHEEHAN: I don't think so, Chris, because I believe that Afghanistan is almost the same thing. We're fighting terrorism. Or terrorists, we're saying. But they're not contained in a country. This is an ideology and not an enemy. And we know that Iraq, Iraq had no terrorism. They were no threat to the United States of America.

MATTHEWS: But Afghanistan was harboring, the Taliban was harboring al-Qaida which is the group that attacked us on 9/11.

SHEEHAN: Well then we should have gone after al-Qaida and maybe not after the country of Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS: But that's where they were being harbored. That's where they were headquartered. Shouldn't we go after their headquarters? Doesn't that make sense?

SHEEHAN: Well, but there were a lot of innocent people killed in that invasion, too. ... But I'm seeing that we're sending our ground troops in to invade countries where the entire country wasn't the problem. Especially Iraq. Iraq was no problem. And why do we send in invading armies to march into Afghanistan when we're looking for a select group of people in that country?

So I believe that our troops should be brought home out of both places where we're obviously not having any success in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and that's who they told us was responsible for 9/11.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Politics of protest

The following is posted for my friend Carl Morgan. It originally appeared in truncated form on the Dallas Morning News editorial page, but I'm putting up the unedited original for him so his full article will have a home:

CRAWFORD, Texas -- I guess we made a wrong turn.

This was all but obvious as a Secret Service agent approached the car and coldly asked what we wanted. We were too close to Bush's ranch.

According to radio station 570 KLIF, we were to park at Bubba's house (no joke), and meet with other pro-Bush supporters to demonstrate our support and to counter Cindy Sheehan's continuing cooperation with increasingly distasteful anti-war groups.

After we explained this to the SS agent, her manner completely changed. She became amicable -smiled even- and was extremely helpful. This was emblematic of every law-enforcement officer we encountered.

I joined 6 other Protest-Warriors, a conservative group that "protests the protesters," and headed down to Crawford on Saturday to get a better idea of what was happening. We cruised down to what ended up being another dead-end, but in the process had to pass through a carnival of liberal antiwar tents and tables. Cars were no match for them as they confidently strutted in front of us. We turned back around and talked to some more officers and finally found parking. A "Beat Texas and Bush" bumper sticker plastered the back of a truck. Where would you protest then? I thought.

So now I could finally accomplish what I was trying to do: talk to people. I went up to a Sheehan supporter and asked if I could talk to him. "No," he said. "Why not?" I asked. "Until I see some sort of press pass then I'm not talking to you," he said. "Unfortunately, they don't give press passes to student journalists. I could show you
my college ID if that'll help," I said. "No."

He wouldn't give me his name, in fact, no Sheehan supporter would give their name, let alone talk. I did come with the Protest-Warrior's, but I carried no sign and was not acting obnoxiously conservative. Does an unmarked shirt and jeans scream conservatism? I actually wanted to hear both sides. But they wouldn't have it.
Instead, I was faced with considerable hostility and awkward responses.

A person with the name "Mark" emblazoned on his vest said it would depend on my question if he would let me quote him or not. I wasn't impressed.

Finally, an unnamed girl started talking and making a lot of sense. "Everybody has a right to be here," she said. Before she could go further, a man came up behind her and whispered, "They're Freepers, you don't need to be talking to them," he said. A "Freeper" is a member of the online conservative news site

Shortly after, I met Gary Qualls, a man who lost his son in the Battle for Fallujah. He wore his son's boot tags and handed out information regarding his son's death. He received minimal press attention and was visibly upset when relating his son's story. He also had to bear witness to his son's name on a cross set out by antiwar protesters along the road.

The irony in my experience is that Cindy Sheehan and her supporters are asking the media and the country to probe Bush with challenging and adversarial questions, yet how can they expect Bush to do this when they themselves will not? The left is supposedly the party that celebrates a diverse range of ideas and tolerance
regarding dissension. I know this because I know Democrats who have no problem rationally disagreeing.

My thoughts were later confirmed when Bob Weaver from Fort Worth was walking around the antiwar groups and they asked him, "Are you for Bush?" He was wearing a very non-discreet pro-Bush shirt. "You have to go," they told him.

The conservatives, on the other hand, were unabashed in their eagerness to discuss a differing opinion. This I know because "cameramen" from antiwar groups came over and interviewed many of us. I did not see one conservative decline an interview or ask them to return to "their side."

The lack of healthy debate from the left I encountered is not because of empty intellect, rather it is much worse. It is the result of contagious attempts by overzealous liberals trying to contain their perverse monopoly over a potentially formidable party."

The Iraqi perspective

Mohammad from Iraq the Model posted a message to Cindy Sheehan that looks at her protest from an Iraqi perspective and points out that there were a million Cindy Sheehans in Saddam's Iraq:

I realize how tragic your loss is and I know how much pain there is crushing your heart and I know the darkness that suddenly came to wrap your life and wipe away your dreams and I do feel the heat of your tears that won't dry until you find the answers to your question; why you lost your loved one?

I have heard your story and I understand that you have the full right to ask people to stand by your side and support your cause. At the beginning I told myself, this is yet another woman who lost a piece of her heart and the questions of war, peace and why are killing her everyday. To be frank to you the first thing I thought of was like "why should I listen or care to answer when there are thousands of other women in America, Iraq and Afghanistan who lost a son or a husband or a brother…”

But today I was looking at your picture and I saw in your eyes a persistence, a great pain and a torturing question; why?

I know how you feel Cindy, I lived among the same pains for 35 years but worse than that was the fear from losing our loved ones at any moment. Even while I'm writing these words to you there are feelings of fear, stress, and sadness that interrupt our lives all the time but in spite of all that I'm sticking hard to hope which if I didn't have I would have died years ago.

Ma'am, we asked for your nation's help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation's act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity.
Our request is justified, death was our daily bread and a million Iraqi mothers were expecting death to knock on their doors at any second to claim someone from their families.
Your face doesn't look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours.

Our fellow country men and women were buried alive, cut to pieces and thrown in acid pools and some were fed to the wild dogs while those who were lucky enough ran away to live like strangers and the Iraqi mother was left to grieve one son buried in an unfound grave and another one living far away who she might not get to see again.

We did nothing to deserve all that suffering, well except for a dream we had; a dream of living like normal people do.

We cried out of joy the day your son and his comrades freed us from the hands of the devil and we went to the streets not believing that the nightmare is over.
We practiced our freedom first by kicking and burning the statues and portraits of the hateful idol who stole 35 years from the life of a nation.
For the first time air smelled that beautiful, that was the smell of freedom.

The mothers went to break the bars of cells looking for the ones they lost 5, 12 or 20 years ago and other women went to dig the land with their bare hand searching for a few bones they can hold in their arms after they couldn't hold them when they belonged to a living person.

I recall seeing a woman on TV two years ago, she was digging through the dirt with her hands. There was no definite grave in there as the whole place was one large grave but she seemed willing to dig the whole place looking for her two brothers who disappeared from earth 24 years ago when they were dragged from their colleges to a chamber of hell.

Her tears mixed with the dirt of the grave and there were journalists asking her about what her brothers did wrong and she was screaming "I don't know, I don't know. They were only college students. They didn't murder anyone, they didn't steal, and they didn't hurt anyone in their lives. All I want to know is the place of their grave".

Why was this woman chosen to lose her dear ones? Why you? Why did a million women have to go through the same pain?

We did not choose war for the sake of war itself and we didn't sacrifice a million lives for fun! We could've accepted our jailor and kept living in our chains for the rest of our lives but it's freedom ma'am.
Freedom is not an American thing and it's not an Iraqi thing, it's what unites us as human beings. We refuse all kinds of restrictions and that's why we fought and still fighting everyday in spite of the swords in the hands of the cavemen who want us dead or slaves for their evil masters.

You are free to go and leave us alone but what am I going to tell your million sisters in Iraq? Should I ask them to leave Iraq too? Should I leave too? And what about the eight millions who walked through bombs to practice their freedom and vote? Should they leave this land too?
Is it a cursed land that no one should live in? Why is it that we were chosen to live in all this pain, why me, why my people, why you?

But I am not leaving this land because the bad guys are not going to leave us or you to live in peace. They are the same ones who flew the planes to kill your people in New York.
I ask you in the name of God or whatever you believe in; do not waste your son's blood.
We here have decided to avenge humanity, you and all the women who lost their loved ones.
Take a look at our enemy Cindy, look closely at the hooded man holding the sword and if you think he's right then I will back off and support your call.

We live in pain and grief everyday, every hour, every minute; all the horrors of the powers of darkness have been directed at us and I don't know exactly when am I going to feel safe again, maybe in a year, maybe two or even ten; I frankly don't know but I don't want to lose hope and faith.

We are in need for every hand that can offer some help. Please pray for us, I know that God listens to mothers' prayers and I call all the women on earth to pray with you for peace in this world.

Your son sacrificed his life for a very noble cause…No, he sacrificed himself for the most precious value in this existence; that is freedom.

His blood didn't go in vain; your son and our brethren are drawing a great example of selflessness.
God bless his free soul and God bless the souls of his comrades who are fighting evil.
God bless the souls of Iraqis who suffered and died for the sake of freedom.
God bless all the freedom lovers on earth.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A poor, misguided soul

With apologies to Steve McCrosky , looks like I picked the wrong week to stop blogging, it was quite a week.

I will start with Cindy Sheehan, since that is (literally) pretty close to home. On the one hand, this is certainly a woman worthy of our sympathy, as her son heroically gave his life in defense of his country. On the other hand, it is sad to see somebody become so unhinged and irrational for any reason, be it from uncontrollable grief or from having fallen prey to the brainwashing of what is essentially a cult. Certainly, for whatever reason, her stance on her son’s death has taken a radical turn in the last year since her meeting with President Bush. Yes, she has already had a meeting with the president and left it satisfied, that what she is seeking is a second meeting is a fact that is often glossed over or ignored by the Bush-hating mainstream media.

To review, here is an excerpt of the account, from her hometown paper the (Vacaville, CA) Reporter, of Cindy’s first meeting with the president in June 2004:

Sincerity was something Cindy had hoped to find in the meeting. Shortly after Casey died, Bush sent the family a form letter expressing his condolences, and Cindy said she felt it was an impersonal gesture.

"I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis," Cindy said after their meeting. "I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."


The trip had one benefit that none of the Sheehans expected.

For a moment, life returned to the way it was before Casey died. They laughed, joked and bickered playfully as they briefly toured Seattle.

For the first time in 11 weeks, they felt whole again.

"That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together," Cindy said.

[End excerpt]

Now, some 16 months later, she has changed her story sharply from that account, giving the impression that she is making things up for maximum shock value as she goes along these days. Her rhetoric in general has gone so far over the top that it is impossible to take her seriously any more. The man she once referred to as “a man of faith” she now calls an “evil maniac.” Where she once said "I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis," now it’s “if he even starts to say ‘freedom and democracy’ I’m gonna say, ‘bullshit.’” She says that her son died for oil, or to make Bush’s friends rich, or for imperialism. She calls the US a fascist state. She says that this country is not worth dying for. She claims that we are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now (?!?) She throws in a non sequitur about getting Israel out of Palestine, as if that has anything to do with her son’s life or death. Somebody has to have filled her head with this kind of idiocy. We can start with a couple of America-haters with whom she is closely tied, Lynne Stewart and Michael Moore, but my guess is that is just the beginning. The organization she has aligned herself with this month, the Crawford Peace House, has been exposed as just another garden-variety anti-Semitic group. I can’t say for sure whether these radicals are who caused her to become so far detached from reality, but if nothing else we can say she picks her friends poorly.

Lest there be any confusion, Cindy is not protesting on behalf of her son’s beliefs or the family’s wishes, they have been quite conspicuous by their absence.

She has claimed that son Casey was tricked my military recruiters. Not true; he voluntarily re-enlisted in the Army at age 24, having served his first stint successfully.

Husband Patrick has filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences, with Cindy herself saying that the war and her activism was the reason for their separation (although, in fairness, this is yet another case of her story changing; she had previously said it was over stress over the loss of their son).

Her other children, despite almost daily breathless accounts that they are on the way, have yet to show up in Crawford, nor is there any indication that they will (her two daughters are in Europe).

And the rest of the family has made their feelings known with the release of this statement: “The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect. Sincerely, Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins."

It is truly sad that Cindy Sheehan has been unable to cope with her son’s death and has chosen to dishonor him in death. It is also sad that she has allowed herself to be used by people who hope that soldiers like her son will die so they can use it for political gain, having after all never felt anything but contempt for him and his fellow soldiers in life. When she becomes too much of an embarrassment for them or she is no longer useful, they will simply discard her. Let’s hope that there is somebody there for her then, because once she realizes that she was just a pawn you get the feeling she will be crushed all over again.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The boom nobody notices

I’ve often wondered how it is that polls show that Americans continue to think that the economy is not doing so well, despite an avalanche of evidence to the contrary (while paradoxically about 3 in 4 say that their personal financial situation is improving, but I digress). It is easy to blame big media, because obviously with a Republican in the White House they are going to attempt to paint things in a negative light, but that can’t fully explain it – it’s not like they were ever positive with Reagan or Bush 41 in office or negative with Clinton in office, but it is now that the polls are most strongly out of touch with economic reality. There’s got to be some underlying reason.

Enter one of the blogosphere’s newest members and for my money the most knowledgeable political mind in the country, Michael Barone. He puts forth that, after 22 years of mostly uninterrupted prosperity, Americans are simply spoiled and miss the forest for the trees:

“For 22 years, from 1983 to 2005, we have lived in mostly good economic times: The American economy has had low-inflation, nontrivial economic growth during at least 90 percent of the quarters during that period. (I don't have the figures in front of me, but I'm pretty confident that I'm right.) So, my theory goes, Americans have come to take low-inflation economic growth for granted. It is the norm. The default condition. It's what we expect as a bare minimum. By 1999-2000, we may have come to expect bubble growth as the norm.

So we reacted with historically unprecedented negativity to any negative economic factor (and there's always something negative about the economy). The mild 2001-03 period of recession and slow growth evokes a response much like that of the deep recessions of 1979-83 or 1958-61. High gas prices today evoke a negative reaction similar to the much higher prices (in real dollars) of the early 1980s or the much sharper increases of 1973-74.

It has not always been so. From 1970 to 1982, there were relatively few periods of low-inflation economic growth. (Perhaps I'll check the data later and update this.) Liberal economists wrote that low-inflation economic growth was no longer possible and that we had better start acting like adults and getting used to the weak economy that was the best they could give us. When the Reagan tax cuts produced that condition suddenly in 1983, voters were immensely grateful, and Reagan was reelected with 59 percent of the vote in 1984.

More recently, voters who have come to regard low-inflation economic growth as the default condition have shown much less gratitude to presidents with plausible claims to have produced that growth. Bill Clinton was reelected with 49 percent of the vote in 1996 and George W. Bush with 51 percent. Preoccupied with minor economic problems and unappreciative of the historically unusual era of growth that has come to seem the norm, we feel free to cast out votes on cultural issues while we carp all the while about an economy our forebears would have killed for.”

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I see crazy people

As a public service to those of you who can’t see into the future, here is a sneak preview of the coming John Roberts hearing.

Friday, August 05, 2005

More historical perspective

Check out this quote:

"The public censured the Commander-in-Chief for the bloodshed, for this seemingly endless war. More and more politicians and journalists, Republicans as well as Democrats, called his administration incompetent. Military failures produced demands for peace negotiations. And the President was roundly condemned for curtailing civil liberties."

Ted Kennedy describing George W. Bush in summer 2005? Nope, it’s actually poet and novelist Daniel Mark Epstein speaking of of Abraham Lincoln in the spring of 1863.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Great moments in print journalism

I've complained about the popular misuse of the term "insurgent" in the past, so I would be remiss not to give kudos to my hometown paper, The Dallas Morning News, for this decision - may others follow their lead:

"Today, this editorial board resolves to sacrifice another word -- 'insurgent' -- on the altar of precise language. No longer will we refer to suicide bombers or anyone else in Iraq who targets and kills children and other innocent civilians as 'insurgents.' The notion that these murderers in any way are nobly rising up against a sitting government in a principled fight for freedom has become, on its face, absurd. They drove that point home with chilling clarity Wednesday in a poor Shiite neighborhood. As children crowded around U.S. soldiers handing out candy and toys in a gesture of good will, a bomb-laden SUV rolled up and exploded. These children were not collateral damage. They were targets. The SUV driver was no insurgent. He was a terrorist. People who set off bombs on London trains are not insurgents. We would never think of calling them anything other than what they are -- terrorists. Words have meanings. Whether too timid, sensitive or 'open-minded,' we've resisted drawing a direct line between homicidal bombers everywhere else in the world and the ones who blow up Iraqi civilians or behead aid workers. No more. To call them 'insurgents' insults every legitimate insurgency in modern history. They are terrorists."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

How to screw up kids

This sounds like something from The Onion, but it’s actually a suggestion from the helpful folks at London’s Daily Telegraph:

"The word 'fail' as a verdict on children's exams and other school work should be abolished and replaced with the term 'deferred success,' a teaching union official is proposing. Liz Beattie . . . believes that some children find 'failure very hard to cope with' and that it can lead them to becoming depressed."

Wow, I don't know where to start, the possibilities here are endless. My Orioles haven’t been losing, they’ve been “deferring victories.” The house or car note isn’t debt, it’s just “deferred income.” You didn’t really break up with that girl, you just “deferred marriage.” No, officer, I’m not drunk, I just “deferred sobriety.”

Is there anybody for really thinks this kind of idiocy (along with grade inflation, social promotion, and other PC foolishness) is good for children? Learning to deal with failure would seem to me to be one of the most important aspects of preparing children for adulthood.

On the other hand, if you are in the mental health or supporting industries, this sort of nonsense is a great way to create for you an ever-expanding base of potential future clients.

The more things change...

It appears that the press criticizing the military's war efforts is not only a Vietnam/Iraq-era phenomenon. Here's a Robert E. Lee quote I ran across that might as well have been uttered yesterday by one of our current generals:

"Why, it appears that we appointed all of our worst generals to command the armies and we appointed all of our best generals to edit the newspapers. I mean, I found by reading a newspaper that these editor generals saw all of the defects plainly from the start but didn't tell me until it was too late. I'm willing to yield my place to these best generals and I'll do my best for the cause by editing a newspaper."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Some recess appointment history

Joe’s Dartblog reminds us of a recess appointment of the past, starring Robert Byrd in the role now played by Ted Kennedy:

In 1961, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was at the very beginning of his term. But the reforms had already begun. State-sponsored segregation was under attack from not only the executive branch but also from firebrand upstarts situated just north and south of the Mason-Dixon line. One of these- the most successful- was a black man named Thurgood Marshall. He was barely out of Howard University in 1933 when the civil rights movement swept him up and carried him to national renown.

Beginning out of his small private practice in Baltimore and then, in 1940, as chief counsel of the NAACP, Marshall took on keystone civil rights cases. The "little man's lawyer" was immensely successful, winning 29 out of his 32 Supreme Court cases. (Later, as America's first black Supreme Court justice, Marshall's record would be even more sterling as he wrote over 150 opinions, 98 of which were majority ones, of which none were reversed by subsequent Courts.)

The tipping point was Brown v. Board of Education (1954). After winning that landmark case, the national radar, where he figured prominently, owed him. And so, in 1961, JFK announced that he had nominated Thurgood Marshall to be a justice on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. But remnants of the Solid South would have none of that. They opposed, in essence, a black man's elevation to such an influential position. And so Marshall could not gain confirmation in the Senate, despite very strong support from Senators and an enviable track record.

President Kennedy was abraded by the obstructionism, and waited for Congress to go into recess. He appointed Thurgood Marshall to the bench then, bypassing the Senate and the vociferous racists in the Senate who had held things up. The leading senator whose obstructionism caused the recess appointment was Robert Byrd (D-WV), who would go on to conduct his famous filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It is unintentionally veracious that Robert Byrd's website, in its meta tag description seen in this Google search, calls the Senator "the West Virginian of the 20th Century."

Well, we know he likes cows

This story from Sky News is too priceless to pass up (hat tip: James Taranto):

Former US president Bill Clinton has been offered 40 goats and 20 cows for his daughter by a love-struck African government official.

Mr Clinton was offered the deal on a recent trip to Kenya.

He was offered the animals as a traditional African way of getting a father to give away his daughter's hand in marriage.

The dowry is a very generous one by the country's own standards.

Godwin Kipkemoi Chepkurgor wrote to Mr Clinton through Kenya's Foreign Minister.

He said: "Had I succeeded in wooing Chelsea, I would have had a grand wedding.

"I would have invited South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to preside at the ceremony."

The councillor gave the names of the former Kenyan president Daniel Arap-Moi and two of his college mates as character references.

Mr Chepkurgor also said he was also impressed by Mr Clinton's wife, Hillary, for standing by Mr Clinton during the Monica Lewinksy scandal.

He said Mrs Clinton acted like a "like an African woman".

Dems gone wild

There must be something in the water, as the wackiness quotient lately has risen to levels not seen since last election season.

· Anita Hill, writing in Newsday, headlines that the nomination of John Roberts is a “step back for diversity.” Yes, the same Anita Hill who played the lead role in the effort to keep a black man off the Supreme Court.

· Senator John Kerry also weighed in on Roberts: "We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record." Yes, the same John Kerry who ran for president last year on his military record, but has still not yet released his complete military records to the public after promising to do so. Somehow voters managed to "do their duty" anyway.

· Senator Ted Kennedy called the recess appointment of John Bolton to the post of US Ambassador to the UN "a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent.” Yes, the same Ted Kennedy who was one of the leaders of the effort to evade the constitutional requirement of consent by denying him a vote in the Senate.

· DNC Chairman Howard Dean offered up this gem on the unfortunate Kelo v City of New London decision, which gave governments the right to seize property from one private entity and give it to another for property tax gains in a perversion of eminent domain: “The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is 'okay' to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is. We think that eminent domain does not belong in the private sector. It is for public use only.” In truth the majority taking the action Dean demagogued consisted of the Court’s four liberals plus Kennedy and the dissenters were the Court’s three conservatives plus O’Connor. Dean must have thought his audience (College Democrats of America) would be too ignorant to catch the lie. Or else Dean demonstrated a stunning bit of ignorance himself.

· And, fonally, a DNC press release included this whopper: "Doctors pronounced the President to be in 'superior' physical condition, which media reports attributed to his rigorous, six day a week exercise routine. While President Bush has made physical fitness a personal priority, his cuts to education funding have forced schools to roll back physical education classes and his Administration's efforts to undermine Title IX sports programs have threatened thousands of women's college sports programs." Given that I know the DNC knows that education funding has risen by 65% during the Bush administrations, this one is clearly just a lie that they feel they can slip by to ignorant readers.

Monday, August 01, 2005


I haven’t commented on the Plame/Rove kerfuffle because it’s just politics for the sake of politics, a fake scandal to try to take down a bogeyman, and that kind of stuff bores me. My take on the whole thing was pretty neatly summed up by John Tierney in the NYT:

“For now, though, it looks as if this scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it.”

bin Laden down in the polls

This, from James Dunnigan, seems like very good news to me (hat tip: Instapundit):

Osama bin Laden’s popularity is declining. The Pew Research Center recently conducted an public opinion poll in Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan and Lebanon, with people polled by telephone or face-to-face. In most countries, support for bin Laden and his terrorist tactics declined by about half. There were two exceptions. In Jordan and Pakistan, it went up. In Jordan, where there have been few al Qaeda attacks, support for bin Laden went from 55 percent (two years ago) to 60 percent now. In Pakistan, where terror attacks have been directed against the government and non-Moslems, it went from 45 to 51 percent. In contrast, in Morocco, support went from 49 to 26 percent. In Lebanon, it went from 14 to two percent. In Turkey it went from 15 to seven percent. In both Jordan and Pakistan, Islamic radicalism has caught on in a big way. This extremist approach to religion and politics promises a quick solution to ancient problems. All you have to do is get behind spectacular terrorist attacks and blind hatred for non-believers. This has a certain appeal. It worked for communists and fascists eighty years ago, it’s working for al Qaeda today. What goes around, comes around. But the corruption and economic backwardness that afflict most of the Islamic world are not being solved by Islamic terrorism. The “clean government” that Islamic radicals offer doesn’t last long. Look at what happened in Afghanistan and Iran when the Islamic radicals took over. These zealots also put the poorly performing economy into reverse. But the Islamic radicals have learned how to manipulate a poorly educated and informed population, and use the mass media (especially radio and television) to their advantage. Journalists in the Moslem world are also attracted to sensationalistic stories. However, these stories follow an arc, and have an unpleasant ending. When the Islamic radicals take over, or engage in heavy combat in a country, their popularity falls steeply. That’s what happened in Afghanistan and Iran (where elections and polls show about 80 percent of the population against the Islamic radicals). In Iraq and Egypt, where the Islamic radicals are still setting off bombs, the terrorists have even less support. The lesson in all this is that, while blowing people up will get you on TV, and attract some favorable attention to your cause, it doesn’t last. Eventually people see you for what you really are; a murderous fanatic with illusions for solutions and murder for motivation.

UPDATE 8/1/05:

Here is the actual study referenced above. Pretty interesting stuff, check it out.